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Alaska Army, Air Guard Save Two People in One Day

By Margaret J Moonin/Alaska National Guard

CAMP DENALI, Alaska, May 22, 2009 - Two rescues in one day were recorded by the Alaska Army and Air National Guard on Monday.

The Alaska Army Guard successfully medevaced a 3-month-old infant out of Akiachak followed by an Alaska Air Guard rescue of a 57-year-old injured hunter five miles north of Eureka.

The Alaska National Guard responded to the back-to-back calls for assistance after LifeMed Alaska and the Alaska State Troopers contacted the 11th Rescue Coordination Center.

Weather conditions did not permit a LifeMed Alaska critical care air ambulance to land in the village of Akiachak, so the company contacted the 11th RCC to request their assistance.

At about 1:43 p.m., Alaska Army National Guardsmen with the 1/207th Aviation took off from Bethel, onboard a UH-60 Black Hawk, accompanied by two LifeMed Alaska medics.

Upon landing in Akiachak the LifeMed Alaska medics assessed the infant's condition and loaded her onto the Black Hawk for transportation to the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta Regional Hospital for treatment of respiratory distress.

The Alaska Army National Guard's 1/207th Aviation was awarded one save for this mission.

Meanwhile, the RCC received a call from the Alaska State Troopers to assist with the rescue of an injured hunter near Eureka.

A 211th Rescue Squadron HC-130 Hercules with pararescuemen from the 212th Rescue Squadron onboard was in flight to Anchorage and was redirected to the site at 2:30 p.m.

About 30 minutes later, a 210th Rescue Squadron HH-60 Pave Hawk with 212th Rescue Squadron pararescuemen onboard launched from Eielson Air Force Base. The Pave Hawk made a precautionary landing a short time into the flight due to mechanical issues and after assessing the problem was forced to return to Eielson Air Force Base.

In response, the Air National Guard tasked a 210th Rescue Squadron HH-60 Pave Hawk with 212th Rescue Squadron pararescuemen onboard from Kulis Air National Guard Base to take over the mission.

The HC-130 Hercules dropped two radios to the hunting party to establish contact and moments later two pararescuemen parachuted into a clearing approximately one mile from the site.

On landing, the Guardsmen quickly gathered their chutes and hiked to the site where they provided emergency medical treatment to the hiker. The injured man was hunting five miles west of Eureka, with four other hunters, when he fell out of a bear stand about 10 feet and was complaining of back pain.

After assessing the hunter's injuries, pararescuemen assisted the remainder of the hunting party with clearing out the heavily wooded area so a litter could be dropped in to hoist up the man and the Guardsmen.

About 30 minutes after the pararescuemen arrived on site the HH-60 Pave Hawk arrived and lowered a Stokes litter with two additional pararescuemen.

Pararescuemen placed the injured hunter on the Stokes litter, hoisted him onto the HH-60 Pave Hawk and transported him to the Fairbanks Memorial Hospital for further treatment.

Major Tom Stephens, 212th Rescue Squadron commander, knows all too well how bad things can happen to good people of all skill levels. "There have been times we have had to rescue some of our own Guardsmen," Stephens said. "We don't cast judgment on how things happen. We just respond because we understand how things can go wrong in a hurry out there."

The 210th, 211th, and 212th Rescue Squadrons were awarded one save for this mission.